U.S. officials reject 'abhorrent' comments by Iranian leader
A handout picture released by the official website of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shows him delivering a speech during a gathering of Basij in Tehran on November 20, 2013.
November 21st, 2013
04:17 PM ET

U.S. officials reject 'abhorrent' comments by Iranian leader

By Jamie Crawford

They may have been directed to a domestic audience, but some offensive remarks from Iran's supreme leader drew heated responses from senior officials in the Obama administration.

At issue were remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to a gathering of senior military officials in Tehran earlier this week in which he said Israeli officials "cannot be even called humans," and referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "the rabid dog of the region."

"Well, obviously we disagree with it profoundly," Secretary of State John Kerry said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.

"It's inflammatory and it's unnecessary, and I think at this moment, when we are trying to negotiate and figure out what can and can't be achieved, the last thing we need are names back and forth," Kerry said.
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Filed under: Iran • Khamenei • Sec. State John Kerry
Iran nukes: How would the world know?
Fordow enrichment plant near Qom, Iran
March 26th, 2012
03:00 AM ET

Iran nukes: How would the world know?

By Pam Benson

American officials are adamant. The U.S. will respond - possibly with military force - if Iran crosses a red line and decides to actually make nuclear weapons.

But will the U.S. know with an degree of certainty that a line has been crossed?

The decision itself to push ahead really comes down to one person, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Clapper told a Senate hearing recently that any decision would be based on "the supreme leader's world view and the extent to which he thinks that would benefit the state of Iran or, conversely, not benefit."

Clapper was referring to Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the supreme leader of Iran.

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Filed under: CIA • Clapper • IAEA • IAEA • Intelligence • Iran • Iraq • Khamenei • Nuclear • ODNI • Petraeus • Petraeus • Stuxnet • weapons
Analysis: Is Iran's Khamenei flirting with the 'Great Satan'?
March 9th, 2012
12:55 AM ET

Analysis: Is Iran's Khamenei flirting with the 'Great Satan'?

By Elise Labott

Does recent - and rare - praise by Iran's supreme leader for President Barack Obama's efforts to dampen war talk suggest the regime is making an overture toward the United States?

According to Iran's state-run Press TV, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei welcomed Obama's statement that there is a "window of opportunity" to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis through diplomacy, calling such remarks positive. This week, Obama has tried to cool down the martial rhetoric, saying there is too much "loose talk" of war with Iran.

"This talk is good talk and shows an exit from illusion," Khamenei told Iran's Assembly of Experts, a senior clerical body, about Obama's remarks.

He also singled out Obama's comments about bringing the Iranian people to their knees with continued sanctions. That, he said, "shows the continuation of illusion in this issue."

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Filed under: IAEA • Iran • Khamenei • Middle East • Nuclear • Obama
Iran: What is it thinking?
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei listens to a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
February 29th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Iran: What is it thinking?

By Jamie Crawford, CNN

Throughout the course of the past year Iran has been, if anything, consistent in its delivery of provocative acts and bellicose rhetoric.

An alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States is uncovered. Threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz are followed by refusals to allow U.N. nuclear inspectors access to certain sites in the country.

Then there is the issue of alleged assassination attempts of Israeli diplomats at the hands of Iranian operatives in India, Georgia, Thailand and Azerbaijan. And let's also not forget the threats of pre-emptive military action against any country perceived as an imminent threat to the Iranian regime.

What is one to make of what of it all?

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Filed under: Ahmadinejad • Dempsey • Diplomacy • Hillary Clinton • IAEA • Iran • Israel • Khamenei • Nuclear • Secretary of State
Iran a threat to U.S. on many fronts
February 16th, 2012
01:35 PM ET

Iran a threat to U.S. on many fronts

By Suzanne Kelly

Iran poses a laundry list of threats to U.S. national security, according to top officials in the intelligence community.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that Iran poses a threat on a number of fronts, including its ability to develop a nuclear weapon, and the fact that any nuclear attack would likely be delivered by a ballistic missile.

"Iran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East, and it is expanding the scale, reach, and sophistication of its ballistic missile force, many of which are inherently capable of carrying a nuclear payload," Clapper said during his opening remarks to the committee. FULL POST

January 16th, 2012
11:08 PM ET

Tense Triangle: Iran, Israel and US

By Elise Labott and Jill Dougherty

In seeking to avoid a military confrontation with Iran, the United States is navigating a myriad of potential landmines that has created a tense triangle between Iran, Israel and the U.S.

Most immediately, the United States is trying to make clear to Iran the consequences of closing the Strait of Hormuz, a key transit point for one-fifth of the world's oil.

Washington is doing everything to get its message across but send up smoke signals to warn Iran. In the absence of relations, the United States has used a variety of public statements and secret diplomatic backchannels to send a message to Iran that closing the Strait would be a red-line.

Even after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta publicly warned Tehran against such a move last Thursday, threatening to "respond" if Iran attempts to shut down traffic, the U.S. also sent diplomatic messages through Switzerland - its protecting power in Iran - and through Iraqi President Jalal Talibani.

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DEBATE PREP: Pakistan, Iran's model for success
Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran
November 14th, 2011
02:15 PM ET

DEBATE PREP: Pakistan, Iran's model for success

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By AEI's Ali Alfoneh, Special to CNN

Does an economically poor military dictatorship armed with the nuclear bomb sound familiar? If you were thinking Pakistan, you would be right. But increasingly also Iran, which is emulating its neighbor to the east.

To most Western observers this may seem odd.  After all why would Iran follow the example of a failed state rather than a more successful neighbor like Turkey?  The answer may lie in the perspective:  Seen from Tehran, Pakistan is not a failed state, but a tremendous success.

(See also: DEBATE PREP: Iraq's Iran problem, Iran's Iraq problem)

Pakistan may be a poor country, but the Pakistani military establishment manages to protect the privileges of the officer class, which constitutes the ruling elites of Pakistan.  Pakistan did experience international sanctions in the wake of its nuclear tests, but the nuclear capability has since provided Pakistan with a protective shield which makes Pakistan a beneficiary of United States military aid.  This is despite a record of contribution to proliferation of the nuclear bomb, despite of being caught harboring Osama Bin Laden and despite United States Army accusations of Pakistan supporting terrorist networks killing American troops in Afghanistan. FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Ahmadinejad • Analysis • Bachman • Cain • Debate Preps • Gingrich • Huntsman • Iran • Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps • Israel • Khamenei • Middle East • Nuclear • Pakistan • Paul • Perry • Romney • Sanctions • Santorum
DEBATE PREP: Iraq's Iran problem, Iran's Iraq problem
November 14th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: Iraq's Iran problem, Iran's Iraq problem

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By AEI's Michael Rubin, Special to CNN

Ayatollah Khomeini may have founded Iran’s Islamic Republic in 1979, but for the regime in Tehran, his revolution has never really ended.  Iranian politics remain a vortex of factional struggle as hardliners and reformists compete to shape the regime’s character.  American diplomats have long cheered the reformists believing that should reformists triumph, Iran might moderate and return into the family of nations.

In reality, however, the struggle between reformists and hardliners is more style than substance.   Both embrace Iran’s nuclear program, support terrorist groups, and violently oppose Middle East peace.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s hardline president, shocked the West with his virulent Holocaust denial, but his reformist predecessor Mohammad Khatami embraced Holocaust denial, just more quietly.

The Islamic Republic’s true Achilles’ heel is not factionalism, but rather the Shi‘ism upon which it is based.  Shi‘ite Muslims embrace a religious hierarchy somewhat analogous to that in Roman Catholicism but instead of having cardinals select a single pope, every Shi‘ite picks his own personal pope from amongst the leading ayatollahs.  Shi‘ites then show their allegiance by paying religious taxes to the ayatollah they embrace. FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Ahmadinejad • Analysis • Arab Spring • Bachman • Cain • Debate Preps • Gingrich • Huntsman • Iran • Iraq • Khamenei • Paul • Perry • Romney • Santorum